Another day, and sadly, that means that more stories of predatory and exploitative behavior targeting women are coming to light. And once again, the games industry is at the forefront, highlighting a desperate and long-overdue need to be better. This time, Cultist Simulator developer Alexis Kennedy has been accused of ‘exploitative’ conduct and other toxic actions by various women in the industry.
Read the full tweet thread below. Although fair warning to anyone sensitive to stories of abusive or predatory behavior, as some of this could be triggering.
Narrative designer Meg Jayanth led the charge so to speak on outing these accusations, which come from a variety of sources within the industry. The crux of these claims is that Alexis Kennedy allegedly targeted vulnerable or naive people and exploited them in various ways. Some sources claim secretive relationships and controlling tendencies within said relationships, while other allege more obvious forms of threatening behavior. Jayanth said, ‘Alexis Kennedy targets people who are vulnerable and those who are outside of the whisper networks, particularly young women. . .this is not “serial dating”. This is a pattern of abuse perpetrated by an older man who uses his professional, financial and social power to exploit women sexually + professionally. He has threatened many women with retaliation to ensure silence + compliance.’
Kennedy responded to Jayanth’s allegations on Twitter, saying, ‘I deny this. I have had a small number of fully consensual relationships with other people in the industry. Everything else here is a malicious misrepresentation. I have taken legal advice and I am making a police complaint about what seems to be a campaign of harassment.’
Failbetter Games writer Olivia Wood countered, by supporting Jayanth, writing, ‘I was in a relationship with Alexis Kennedy for nearly two years. He was my line manager the entire time.’ Wood also alleges that Kennedy ‘cheated on me with people brought to company events, and who were wanting to work with the company.’
The main Failbetter games account responded too, offering support to those affected by this behavior, saying that ‘this sort of behaviour has no place in our industry, or in any other,’ and that the developer has no connections with Kennedy personally, creatively or financially.
Back in 2018, Guardian editor Keza MacDonald wrote that “the video games industry isn’t yet ready for its #MeToo moment.” But whether that’s true or not, it’s clear that there are consistent problems within the industry. Not only are labor relations and rights notoriously poor, a constant deluge of accusations of physical and verbal harassment and assault make the whole industry even more toxic to everyone involved. Something needs to change.